Individual bronze for Pidgley and McConkey fourth at FEI Junior & Young Rider European Championships
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On the second day of the Individual competition at the FEI European Championships for Juniors & Young Riders, Annabella Pidgley has added to the Juniors’ brilliant team bronze with an outstanding Individual bronze. Young Rider Jessie McConkey posted a phenomenal PB of 74.044% to finish just outside the medals, while high achievers Caitlin Burgess, Anna Dalrymple, Sophie Wallace and Myles Graham have all qualified for tomorrow’s Freestyle final.
With Myles Graham having posted a super score yesterday to sit fifth overnight, and with the Junior team still riding high after their bronze medal success, there was everything to play for in today’s thrilling decider for Individual medal honours.
First British Junior down the centre line in International Arena 1 this afternoon was Sophie Wallace with Ursula Bechtolsheimer and Laura Tomlinson’s Westphalian mare, Rosalie B (Rubin Royal x Newcastle). Sophie (15), who has a background in show jumping and took over the reins on “Rosie” a mere eight months ago, presented her horse with maturity and poise throughout, producing a harmonious and precise test for 71.765%. This put cool-headed Sophie, on her European Championships debut, into provisional seventh place.
Annabella Pidgley and Espe (Escolar x Dimaggio) who spearheaded Great Britain to a tremendous team bronze medal on Wednesday, the nation’s first Junior team medal for 24 years, started today as an odds-on favourite combination for a podium place, and deliver that they certainly did.
Drawn to go at 17:14 this afternoon, all eyes were on this talented combination (pictured above), performing today in front of a legion of supporters on “Hartpury Hill”. Sarah Pidgley’s breathtaking mare, with so much engine and elasticity, earned a plethora of eights, with the trot half passes, medium and extended trot, extended walk and extended canter particular highlights. Four of the five judges rounded off their marks with an eight for general impression.
Germany’s Allegra Schmitz-Morkramer, sister of today’s Young Rider Individual gold medallist Helen Schmitz-Morkramer, was sitting in gold on an outstanding 77.030%, Denmark’s Sophia Boje Obel Jørgensen and Brilliant were in the silver medal position on 74.618% while France’s Mathilde Juglaret with Caporal de Massa were lying provisional bronze on 74.324%.
Had Annabella done enough to earn consecutive European Championship medals? It was a tense wait for the score to be announced, but when it was the answer was affirmative. A score of 74.382% appeared on the board sealing the third individual medal of her career so far.
Sadly it wasn’t to be India Durman-Mills’ day as Escade took fright after showing super trot and walk work, resulting in elimination. This young lady has impressed so much this week with both her professionalism and her fantastic performance on Wednesday in helping the British Juniors to achieve a place on the team podium. We look forward to seeing India and Escade back where they belong in the future.
“I was really happy with how Espe felt today,” commented Annabella after the medal ceremony this evening. “She was really super. All my extensions were much improved from Hagen, and everything just felt really seamless and flawless. We had a few mistakes but at our first championships together I couldn’t have asked for more from her.
“She’s so sweet and always tries her absolute hardest,” continued Annabella about Espe. “This [the Championships] is a lot for her, as it’s her first championships. She’s only eight years old and she’s never really done anything this big with me before, and she’s just given it her absolute all every single day. I think she was a bit tired today, but she just continued to give me everything that she could, and it’s an honour to be able to ride her.
“It’s pretty cool,” was the 17-year-old’s response when asked what it feels like to add another medal to her collection. “It feels incredible and hopefully we can try again tomorrow in the freestyle."
Annabella has trained long-term with Danish star Cathrine Dufour and more recently with Charlotte Dujardin as well. “We bought Espe as a six-year-old and Cathrine trained her for two years before I took over the ride this March, so she knows her inside out. And I’ve been working with Charlotte since last year. The combination of the two has really helped us to improve, and we were really polishing the details before this championship and I think you can see it’s really paid off.”
With Caitlin Burgess and Anna Dalrymple each occupying top-five places overnight, together with Maddy Frewin sitting 13th, there was great anticipation amongst the British camp going into the second half of the Individual competition, and medal decider, today. With 18 coveted places on offer for tomorrow’s Freestyle finale, where a further set of FEI medals will be awarded, there was a strong possibility of a good British representation on the final day of competition.
The first group of riders revealed some top performances, including an outstanding ride by Austria’s Paul Jöbstl and the chestnut stallion Bodyguard 49 (74.706%), who took up provisional third place on the leader board behind Helena Schmitz-Morkramer with DSP Lifestyle (76.949%) and Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel and Zinq Hugo FH (75.368%) – remarkably this top three remaining the same until the final podium.
The sole British Young Rider combination competing today, her compatriots having ridden yesterday, was Jessie McConkey with her bay mare Lady Gaga (Quaterback x Solos Landwind). Buoyed by a fantastic Team Test PB of 72.235% on Tuesday, Jessie and “Millie” came into today’s performance full of confidence and conviction.
Riding the test of their lives, the pair (pictured above) gave their all with a gutsy yet precise performance showcasing the mare’s great expression and power. A flamboyant trot tour was followed by solid walk work and a seriously strong canter tour that raked in plenty of eights. Three judges rounded off their marks with eights for general impression - the final score of 74.044% propelling the pair into an emphatic fourth place on the leader board, and that’s where they were to remain at the close of the class, much to the delight of British supporters.
When the final score was revealed on the big screen, the emotion on Jessie’s face was palpable as she left the arena to the cheers of her teammates, support crew and the enthusiastic home crowd.
Competition continues tomorrow morning, after the final horse inspection, with the Young Rider Freestyle starting at 10:30 followed by the Junior Freestyle starting at 14:00. Keep an eye on the BD social media channels for updates and start times.
Results – top five and British placings
Competition sponsored by Andrews Bowen
1. Allegra Schmitz-Morkramer and Libertad, 77.030% (GER)
2. Sophia Boje Obel Jørgensen and Brilliant, 74.618% (DEN)
3. Annabella Pidgley and Espe, 74.382% (GBR)
4. Mathilde Juglaret and Caporal de Massa, 74.324% (FRA)
5. Jill Bogers and Lennox US, 74.000% (NED)
9. Sophie Wallace and Rosalie B, 71.765% (GBR)
14. Myles Graham and Nibeley Union Hit, 71.118% (GBR)
Young Rider Individual
Competition sponsored by Hartpury University
1. Helena Schmitz-Morkramer and DSP Lifestyle, 76.949% (GER)
2. Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel and Zinq Hugo FH, 75.368% (GER)
3. Paul Jöbstl and Bodyguard 49, 74.706% (AUT)
4. Jessica McConkey and Lady Gaga, 74.044% (GBR)
5. Robin Heiden and Gasmonkey, 73.713% (NED)
12. Caitlin Burgess and Chocotof, 72.831% (GBR)
16. Anna Dalrymple and Vagabond de Massa, 71.654% (GBR)
28. Maddy Frewin and Eagle Nouvelle, 68.603% (GBR)
Photo © Camille Peters